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Dean Karnazes is a Speaker, Bestselling Author, Athlete, and Entrepreneur. TIME magazine named Dean Karnazes as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Men’s Fitness hailed him as one of the fittest men on the planet. An internationally recognized endurance athlete and NY Times bestselling author, Dean has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He’s run across Death Valley in 120-degree temperatures, and he’s run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he’s run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve.
His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat.
Dean and his incredible adventures have been featured on 60 Minutes, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS News, CNN, ESPN, The Howard Stern Show, NPR’s Morning Edition, the BBC, and many others. He has appeared on the cover of Runner’s World and Outside, and been featured in TIME, Newsweek, People, GQ, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Men’s Journal, Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and the London Telegraph, to mention a few. He is a monthly columnist for Men’s Health, the largest Men’s publication in the world.
Unlike many sports, running is a physical activity that greatly varies. Some of us prefer to run at a fast pace for several minutes, while others among us are more adapted to run for longer distances and endure lengthier running times. Running is an activity that is characterized by many terms: from jogging to sprinting, and can last a various amount of time, depending on the individual and their planned activity. It can be a solitary activity or one used for social engagement and interaction. My point here is that running is an activity that can be tailored to the individual and their abilities, preferences, and needs, and is not regimented with rules and regulations- anyone can do it, at any given time. Usually, however, after several hours of running most people will stop for a break, due to muscle fatigue, cramp and the physical and mental tiredness that comes with undertaking any means of exercise. However, some individuals have taken the sport to the extremes and can push to the body to their limit, resulting in endeavors that would surprise even the most sporty of people among us. One such individual is Dean Karnazes, a Californian- based runner who is also known as ‘Ultra Marathon Man.’ Karnazes has a remarkable running ability which allows him to run for great distances, over long periods of time without needing to pause to catch a breath. Also a published author, Karnazes has written a book entitled Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner which documents his extraordinary experience as an athlete; one of which was his recent achievement of running 50 marathons in 50 US states in 50 days.
Named by Men’s Fitness and other sports publications as one of the fittest people alive today, Karnazes is also one of the Time’s top 100 influential people. His ability developed from a range of diverse assets: his determination, ongoing practice and his natural running ability which he developed in infancy. Karnazes began to test his mental and physical limits as a child dabbling in not only long distance running but also cycling. Since then Karnazes has developed a ‘hard work, no excuses’ attitude which has resulted in his capability to run very long distances with little sleep and muscular rest. Because of this, some of his accomplishments include running for 350 miles and managing 80 hours and 44 minutes without any sleep. What’s more, not only can Karnazes endure lengthy running times, but he also can persist running in high-risk environments with extreme climates and terrains. He’s managed Death Valley at scorching 120-degree temperatures and even the South Pole at a chilling -40 degrees.
But what is it about Karnazes that allows him to do this? After a certain amount of time exercising most individuals have to stop due to the buildup of lactic acid in their limbs, resulting from the conversion of glucose to energy. The lactic acid causes them to tire, resulting in muscle cramps and fatigue. However, unlike most of the world’s population, Karnazes has a rare genetic condition, that prevents the buildup of lactic acid in his muscle tissue. This allows Karnazes to push his body to the limit, and no matter how far he stretches himself, his muscles never tire or develop a cramp. However, as well as his genetic predisposition to running, Karnazes has a grit determination, and believes that there are no shortcuts to achievements, only hard work. As he quotes on his website: “There are no shortcuts to excellence, at least any that I’ve discovered. Dedication, commitment, passion, and sacrifice are essential components for high achievement. The biggest lesson I haven’t learned is fear and trepidation. I still view myself as invincible, which is clearly not the case.”
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